In the last year we’ve driven 40,000kms (25,000 miles) and travelled to a total of 9 countries on 3 continents. We constantly get asked how much it all costs us and if the price of doing such an extended road trip is worthwhile.
The simple answer is YES. We spend a lot less money traveling the world and enjoying our lives than we used to spend living in a tiny one bedroom apartment in Australia.
So here is a detailed breakdown of what our costs are and why driving around the world on a budget is not only possible, but thoroughly comfortable and enjoyable! All costs are in US dollars spent between May 2016 and May 2017.
1Food and groceries – $5,690.03
Surprisingly enough food and groceries are our largest expense of the trip. We usually cook our own food but often splurge on fancier items at the supermarket like soft cheeses, sourdough breads, chocolate and tropical fruit.
Groceries also includes hygiene and cleaning items like toothpaste, dishwashing detergent and shampoo. Our total grocery cost for the year was $2,238.46.
We eat out whenever we’re too tired to cook or just have a craving for something different. We usually dine at restaurants or take-out places where meals are below $12. We also tend to treat ourselves to coffee and drinks which bumps our total eat out cost up quite a bit. Our total restaurant and take-out costs were $3,451.57.
Travelling primarily in first world countries, where food costs are higher, contributed to making food and groceries our biggest expense. We expect this cost to be surpassed by fuel costs in the coming year as we travel into Central and South America.
2Fuel – $3,927.12
Diesel in Australia and Canada was between US $0.90 – $1.60 a litre (thats US $3.37 – $6.00 per gallon). Our fuel costs decreased dramatically once we entered the US where, on average, we paid US $0.62 a litre (US $2.32 a gallon).
3Shipping Costs – $ 2,403.50
We shipped our van from Sydney, Australia to Seattle, USA on a roll on – roll off ship (ie. not in a container). Below is a breakdown of every single cost in the shipping process. If you’d like to find out more about shipping a vehicle read our post How to ship a vehicle from one continent to another.
Total costs Australia end – $1,903.50
Total costs USA end – $500
4Flights – $1,801.28
We’ve flown six times between three continents in the last year. All flight prices are graphed out below in US dollar (prices are for two people).
5Car related expenses – $1,616.51
We rely on Vanda as our sole mode of transportation and as our home 24/7. For that reason we don’t hold back servicing her regularly and giving her the mechanical attention she needs. Thankfully she hasn’t had any serious problems yet – nothing more than a broken wheel bearing, a leaking oil sensor and some worn ball joints.
We fixed these problems ourselves with spare parts or parts we bought online. We’ve also done 3 out of 4 of Vanda’s services ourselves which helped to keep maintenance costs down.
We were required by law to have third party car insurance in Canada and USA (we found Geico to be the cheapest option) and to continue our Australian registration during our travels.
6Health and hygiene – $1,581.62
We have worldwide travel insurance through World Nomads, although we never needed to use it. We visited 3 separate doctors for check ups, however they weren’t worthwhile claiming on insurance, so we ended up paying cash.
When Alex was hospitalised in Australia to have his appendix removed we used our free Australian public health insurance, only having to pay AUD $32 for the entire week spent in hospital and all medication costs.
7Shopping – $1,533.94
This category includes items such as a heater for the van, hard drives to store all our photo and video footage, clothing (mainly bought from thrift stores/op shops), souvenirs, odds and ends and presents for family/friends.
8Activities – $1,235.78
The majority of attractions and activities we took part in were either free or below $20. The exceptions to this was when we bought our Australian, Canadian and US National Parks passes, when we visited Universal Studios in Orlando, Sovereign Hill historic town in Australia, went on a cruise through Vietnam’s Halong Bay and when we explored Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple region.
We were lucky enough to visit Disneyland for free, swim with manatees in Florida and turtles in Western Australia for free and do a whole lot of 4x4ing and camping at no cost everywhere we went. This kept our activities costs quite low.
9Accommodation – $568.50
Our accommodation costs are so low because the majority of our trip we’ve either stayed with friends, slept for free in the car at Walmart or wild camped. We only paid for accommodation while in Asia and a few times in Australia and the USA when we thought it was worthwhile staying at a paid campsite.
10Public Transport – $401.61
We occasionally caught buses, trains, tuktuks and Ubers going into cities or to pick up the Van from port.
11Travel Documentation – $355.49
This includes all our visas, updated passports and driver’s licence. Our highest costs are graphed below.
12GRAND TOTAL – $21,115.38
We travelled 365 days straight doing what we loved and traveling with no limitations for the tiny cost of $28.92 per person, per day – thats less than $58 together. We could definitely bring this cost down if we drove less each day and didn’t eat as fancy or buy meals out as much.
If you’re thinking of doing a similar kind of trip, we can’t encourage you to get on the road soon enough! As you can see, the cost of living this dream is very reasonable if you’re willing to sleep in your car and cook for yourselves. Sticking to under $60 a day doesn’t mean you’ll lack adventure, fun, meeting amazing people or seeing stunning places. We couldn’t think of a better way to travel!